Rohit Jugraj’s “Arjun Patiala” is a film within a film. An enthusiastic director narrates the story to a jaded producer as the plot plays out on screen. It is fitting that the director and producer are fast asleep by the end of the film – “Arjun Patiala” does little to keep its viewers awake during its 106 minutes.
“Arjun Patiala” is an attempt at subverting Bollywood’s formulaic films. It makes self-deprecating jokes, and presents a checklist of Bollywood tropes from item songs, including one with Sunny Leone, to fight sequences. But this parody forgets the one ingredient that makes a hit Bollywood film: the ability to keep the audience engaged. Director Rohit Jugraj and writers Ritesh Shah and Sandeep Leyzell instead have fashioned a half-baked story about a bright-eyed police officer who wants to rid his neighbourhood of crime.
“From now on, there will be no cases, just judgements,” Arjun Patiala (Diljit Dosanjh) declares on the first day of his job as a police officer in a small Punjabi city. His colleagues back his plans by pitting various criminals against one another.
Arjun meets Ritu (Kriti Sanon), a bubbly journalist, and the two set about on destroying crime syndicates while not forgetting their other priority, cavorting in the fields. The film doesn’t think much of Arjun and Ritu as professionals. He needs her lengthy instructions on how to tackle crime. She is a TV journalist who conducts interviews on voice recorders.
There are sub-plots about Arjun’s trigger-happy father, a corrupt MLA and Ritu’s sad past. None of these stick. The comedy is puerile at worst, tepid at its best.
Dosanjh seems at ease playing the cop, but Sanon is affected as Ritu. “Arjun Patiala” is a victim of its joke.
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Editing by Robert MacMillan and Blassy Boben
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